Before the advent of the starter motor, engines were started by various methods including wind-up springs, , and human-powered techniques such as a removable crank handle which engaged the front of the crankshaft, pulling on an airplane propeller, or pulling a cord that was wound around an open-face pulley (as still commonly used on very small engines for and ).
also issued a nonstandard starter, a direct-drive "movable pole shoe" design that provided cost reduction rather than electrical or mechanical benefits. This type of starter eliminated the solenoid, replacing it with a movable pole shoe and a separate starter relay. This starter operates as follows: The driver turns the key, activating the starter switch. A small electric current flows through the switch-type starter solenoid, closing the contacts and sending large battery current to the starter motor. One of the pole shoes, hinged at the front, linked to the starter drive, and spring-loaded away from its normal operating position, is swung into position by the magnetic field created by electricity flowing through its field coil. This moves the starter drive forward to engage the flywheel ring gear, and simultaneously closes a pair of contacts supplying current to the rest of the starter motor winding. Once the engine starts and the driver releases the starter switch, a spring retracts the pole shoe, which pulls the starter drive out of engagement with the ring gear.
There are also subtle differences in the position of the solenoid in some starters, in that the assembly is more vertical to provide increased exhaust manifold clearance. This relates to the wattage of the starter motor, 0.6kW starters are vertical, 0.8kW starters hang the solenoid out more. According to my factory service manuals, there is also a gear reduction type starter available, Mark from NZ has seen one of these hanging off a 5K in a KT147 Corona wagon. (Can confirm that reduction starters are available on 5K motors - Medicine_Man).
An intermediate development between the Bendix drive developed in the 1930s and the overrunning-clutch designs introduced in the 1960s was the Bendix Folo-Thru drive. The standard Bendix drive would disengage from the ring gear as soon as the engine fired, even if it did not continue to run. The Folo-Thru drive contains a latching mechanism and a set of in the body of the drive unit. When the starter motor begins turning and the drive unit is forced forward on the helical shaft by inertia, it is latched into the engaged position. Only once the drive unit is spun at a speed higher than that attained by the starter motor itself (i.e., it is backdriven by the running engine) will the flyweights pull radially outward, releasing the latch and permitting the overdriven drive unit to be spun out of engagement. In this manner, unwanted starter disengagement is avoided before a successful engine start.